/ Boullée, cénotaphe (1784) /
Etienne-Louis Boullée was a visionary French neoclassical architect whose work greatly influenced contemporary architects. Born in Paris, he studied under Jacques-François Blondel, Germain Boffrand and Jean-Laurent Le Geay, from whom he learned the mainstream French Classical architecture in the 17th and 18th century and the Neoclassicism that evolved after the mid century. He was elected to the Académie Royale d’Architecture in 1762 and became chief architect to Frederick II of Prussia, a largely honorary title.
Boullée promoted the idea of making architecture expressive of its purpose, a doctrine that his detractors termed architecture parlante, which was an essential element in Beaux-Arts architectural training in the later 19th century. His style was most notably exemplified in his proposal for a cenotaph for the English scientist Isaac Newton. The building itself was a 150m tall sphere encompassed by two large barriers circled by hundreds of cypress trees. Though the structure was never built, its design was engraved and circulated widely in professional circles. Boullée’s Cenotaph for Isaac Newton is a funerary monument celebrating a figure interred elsewhere. The small sarcophagus for Newton is placed at the lower pole of the sphere. The design of the memorial creates the effect of day and night. The night effect occurs when the sarcophagus is illuminated by the sunlight coming through the holes in the vaulting.
This gives the illusion of stars in the night sky. The day effect is an armillary sphere hanging in the center that gives off a mysterious glow. The Buildings Design use of light causes the buildings interior to change its appearance.
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